Six weeks ago, I bumped into this challenge on TikTok. They called it the '500 crunches challenge' and it was trending. I decided to take it on, not really knowing what to expect.
I had always been a little curious about how many crunches I could/should actually do in a day. Also, at the time, I was on a 9-month sabbatical from fitness.
From being fairly ribbed, I had gone to dad-bod level. So, I was desperately looking to increase my abdominal strength and definition. This challenge seemed like the perfect way to do it.
Well, it's now been two weeks since I completed it and I've seen some great results! This is my experience performing 500 crunches a day for a month.
How I Went About Doing 500 Crunches a day for 30 days
Restarting your workout after a 9-month break is never easy. It's all the more difficult if your goals are as lofty as 500 crunches a day. So, I decided to take it one day at a time.
I decided that I am going to start with 50 a day. That's just 10% of the actual number. But hey, the last thing I wanted to do was end up with a torn muscle or tendon. That would have prematurely ended my plan and put me out of action for another 6-months.
The first day was easy-peasy and I did them without any complications. The third day was slightly more difficult just because of the sheer number of crunches I had to do within such a short span of time.
Then, it started to get progressively-more difficult.
Warm Up Exercises
Warming up is critical folks. Don't jump off the bed and start crunching straight away. Let Rocky Balboa do that. You need to warm up before you begin this or any other workout.
You might have guessed it, but I'm talking about cardio. A quick jog on an incline treadmill for 10 minutes before starting off with crunches was good enough for me. I also did a couple of sit-ups just to get my lower back warmed up before starting the real deal, doing jumping jacks or jump ropes won't hurt either, I did 100 jumping jacks a couple of times before doing the crunches.
First week was the hardest
The first week was by far the hardest, I kinda knew that would be the case since I did the 100 crunches per day before but this was a lot harder than I expected. This is because your body isn't used to doing such a high number of crunches. It's like anything else, you need to give your body time to adapt.
In the beginning, I struggled to complete all 50 crunches in one go. Sometimes, I would only manage 30 or 40. So I decided to break them into 5 sets of 10 crunches each. I know! That sounds like something even an 80-year-old can do.
But trust me. A long break can completely rob you off your abdominal strength and endurance. So, I thought this was a good way to ease myself back in. By the time I reached 250 crunches, which was on day 5, I almost crashed with fatigue.
For a moment there, I thought, 'To hell with this.' Let's quit. But then something in my brain said, 'One more day. That's all you need.' And I completed the 300 on day 6 and 350 on day-7.
I Reached 500 Crunches Gradually
On day 10, I finally touched 500 crunches. By this time, I had also increased the number of sets to 6. I was taking more breaks in between but was managing to do all 500 crunches. My abdominal strength had definitely improved.
My core seemed stronger, during my squats. I was not bending as much as I did on day 1. The neck jerking was almost gone during the crunch.
Since doing the standard crunch started to get more and more monotonous, I shifted to other exercises like incline crunches, Pilates crunches and Russian twists. This not only kept things interesting, it also helped me target different muscle groups.
I must admit that there were days when I was unable to meet the total number. For instance, on day 14, I could only do 390 crunches. But I made up for it the next day by doing a few extra ones.
By the time I was in week-4, I was doing them on autopilot. There was no muscle soreness, fatigue or pain. Just a sense of satisfaction and pride when I completed 500 crunches in a day.
Diet and Hydration
Doing 500 crunches is only one part of the equation. The second one is muscle recovery. For that, you've got to eat and drink right. Diet and hydration often do not get the love and attention they deserve. When you're working out like a maniac, it's easy to neglect it too.
Here's what worked for me.
It is very important not have a high calorie deficit when on a muscle-building plan. Your body needs sufficient proteins, carbs and healthy fats for muscle growth. Drinking plenty of water will not only keep your insides clean but also improve blood flow to your muscles.
If you start to cramp up, which you might, watch your electrolyte intake. You don't need a fancy colored beverage to restore electrolytes. Even salt does great, along with fruits and veggies.
One tip that's been invaluable for me. Cut out sugar. That stuff is the devil when it comes to health.
Since all this takes time, I recommend doing it before you start off on a workout plan. Once the calories and macros are sorted out, maintaining them is easy.
500 Crunches a Day for a Month: Results & What I Learned
Technically, I did 500 crunches from day 10. So, I actually did the challenge for 40 days, rather than 30. Here's what i achieved from it and what I learnt.
It's Tough, but Definitely Doable
When you are starting to work out after a long break, you tend to be suspicious about your ability to bounce back. Especially, when it’s a demanding workout plan like the 500 crunches challenge.
I had my fair share of doubts and negative thoughts, on day one and during the early days. But as I started to do more and more crunches, I realized that they were just excuses for not wanting to work hard. Doing 500 crunches a day is tough but definitely doable, it's a real test to your stamina and endurance.
Start slow and work your way up. I do not recommend starting the challenge with 500 crunches. I started with 50 and increased it by 50 every day. This is a more manageable number and will help you develop the habit of doing crunches regularly.
Crunches Are Really Great for Abs
The next time some fitness guru tells you that crunches don't build abs, punch them in the face. They absolutely do. I have gone from having almost no visible abs to having a toned midsection in just 40 days.
I can actually head to the beach today and flaunt my almost-there six pack. That's all because of this challenge. The crunches helped improve the abdominal muscle hypertrophy. Also, it has improved aesthetics making the muscle more clearly visible.
So if you want to show off your 6-pack(or 10-pack) abs, you should try this challenge.
I Burned A Lot of Calories
500 crunches are a major calorie scorcher folks. My Apple Watch clocked it at 400 calories a day. Even if I take that with a grain of salt and divide it into half, 200 calories are not bad at all.
Cut out an additional 300 by cleaning up your diet and you are in a 500-calorie deficit. That's 1 lbs. of fat a week roughly. If you thought that crunches don't help with fat loss, think again.
To Get Good Results You Need the Right Form
Intensity is your friend. Bad form is not. Form is crucial to getting results in any workout.
It's critical during crunches. Even a small tweak in alignment can change the whole output of your exercise. You also risk injuring your lower back, or even your spinal muscles which control the lower back.
Start slow and focus on your breathing. Do not jerk your neck as you lift your shoulders off the ground. Don't flay around either. Slow and steady does the trick.
It’s a Great Addition to Your Workout Routine
Crunches are a terrific addition to any workout routine. They burn calories, they stabilize the core, help you with posture and this will translate into smoother range of motion in other compound lifts.
If you can, do 500. You challenge your body and the results will be nothing short of amazing. But even if you cannot, do whatever you can. 100, 200, anything that your body can manage with your current fitness levels, will help. You can also start with easier exercises like standing oblique crunches or cable crunches and them move to tough workout like barbell ab rollout or Roman chair sit ups.
Once You Reach Desired Results You Can Do Less
Why did you start the '500 crunches challenge'? Keep reminding yourself whenever you feel like quitting.
For me, it was about multiple things. It was about restarting my workout routine after a long time, about burning more calories and getting leaner. It was also about building muscle mass in the abdomen and improving my core strength.
Once you reach your desired results, you can reduce the number of crunches you do. Instead of dedicating more time to these, shift focus to other compound exercises. I have started to spend more time in the squat rack these days and my squatting form has improved a lot.
Can You Get a Flat Stomach and Lose Belly Fat Just by Doing Crunches?
No. Crunches alone will not get you a six pack. But they will help your abs become more visible and this will, in turn, motivate you to clean up your diet.
Losing belly fat is all about calories in vs. calories out. There are many ways to achieve this. I recommend choosing a wholesome and healthy method. Eat clean, do your cardio and lift heavy.
That's it folks. 500 crunches may seem like an insurmountable task. But if you give it a try, I am sure that the results will surprise you.
It may have been just 40 days, but I have never felt better before or since. Not only did my midsection become more sculpted and toned, but it got rid of back pain which I had been struggling with for years.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
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